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Tonight Show host Jay Leno finds help with NHRA's 'Torch'

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BURBANK, Calif. (March 23) -- Fans of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno know of the comedian's love of classic cars and motorcycles and his extensive personal collection of automobiles and bikes. A lesser known fact is that, despite a staff of full-time caretakers, Leno loves to work on his various machines. Consequently, the affable funnyman is prone to the same dangers of any backyard mechanic -- busted knuckles, greasy fingernails, and painful burns.

Although he can't offer much more than a band-aid and a bar of soap for the first two problems, Paul "Torch" Le Sage, who grew to prominence spending 25 years as the exclusive welder of the National Hot Rod Association before he created Torch Wear safety equipment, was able to immediately solve Leno's challenge of avoiding the various hot spots on his hot rods. Leno was so appreciative of Le Sage's help, he's broaching the subject on the March 24th episode of his immensely popular TV show.

"I had the great pleasure of meeting Jay just before the Winternationals when Don Schumacher Racing took Gary Scelzi's Oakley Funny Car over to Jay's Garage in Burbank," Le Sage said. "He's as nice a guy as you could ever meet and he really had an interest in every part of the racecar. We even put him in there and fired it up on nitro. He was in heaven

"Afterwards, he gave us a tour of his collection and along the way I noticed he had a pretty nasty burn mark on his arm. I told him I could fix that problem for him with the gear we make and he was really interested. Anyone that's ever been burned can understand why. So we made plans to get together again soon."

Le Sage coordinated with Leno's staff for a reunion and packed a bag full of Torch Wear products for Leno to try. The staff was so intrigued with Le Sage's approach to safety that they summoned the video department and filmed the entire segment, including Le Sage's famous television boast where he holds a 2,000-degree torch to his head with only a thin, protective headsock in place. The difference this time was that Leno himself held the flame to Le Sage's head.

"It was crazy, but a lot of fun," Le Sage said. "In all seriousness, there are lots of things on cars that can burn you. For instance, Jay has these Stanley Steamers from the turn of the century and you have to light this boiler to get the thing going. Well, as you might imagine, it gets extremely hot. It's hard not to get burned. But with our lightweight equipment, he'll be fine, no matter what car he's working on.

"He seemed really appreciative of everything and was really fun to work with in front of the camera. He's as genuine and nice as he is on his TV show and his collection of cars is second-to-none. I just hope he can enjoy all of his cars a little more now that he's not burning himself so much with Torch Wear in his trunk."

The entire segment on Le Sage will be available for viewing on immediately after the weekly Jay's Garage segment airs on Monday, March 24. Users should click on the "Video" button and then the "Video Extras" button to view.